Stormwatch (40th Anniversary Force 10 Edition) – Jethro Tull
It’s that time of the year again for another re-issue from the back catalogue of Jethro Tull albums that come in the form of these rather splendid book editions and this particular edition celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the 1979 album Stormwatch to which Mr. Anderson is calling the “Force 10 Edition”. This is actually the 11th album to be given the book treatment which all started back in 2012 when the 1972 album Thick As A Brick got the treatment to which he called “The Special Collector’s Edition” which also celebrated that albums 40th Anniversary. It was only a couple of years prior to that we see for the first time 5.1 versions of the albums Stand Up and Aqualung and even though none of those releases were given the book treatment at the time.
There is no doubt that Mr. Anderson seen something more appealing about how the first book edition of Thick As A Brick was presenting itself in the form of a book that came with a CD and DVD with 5.1 version of the album, plus a book that told you everything about the albums history and it very much inspired him to even go back and re-release both Stand Up and Aqualung again in the form of a book edition and give people even more for their money by putting more discs inside them. It was however unfortunate that in 2013 that the 1970 Benefit album did not get the book treatment at all and was only ever released in a 4-panel digiPack to which he called “A Collector’s Edition”.
So far to date Benefit is the only album not to be given the book treatment out of the first 12 albums that was released from 1968 – 1979. But the one thing I have noticed is that the albums 50th Anniversary is only around the corner and only a year away now. So just like we had the 40th Anniversary of the 1978 album Heavy Horses and the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 album This Was given the book treatment last year. We could very well see the 40th Anniversary of the 1980 album A and the 50th Anniversary of the 1970 album Benefit get released in 2020.
Besides being the 3rd part of a trilogy of folk rock albums, the album Stormwatch was the last album to feature Jethro Tull’s classic band line-up and it’s last member to join them bassist John Glascock who had joined the band in 1976 died from heart complications during the making of the album in the same year of its release. The album was not made under the best conditions and times and I personally felt it suffered for it. But before we go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork of this new release of the album.
The Packaging & Artwork…
As with all these packages they are 100% quality in that everything stores away neatly into a 96-page hardback book. The 4 CD’s are held firmly in place with the plastic hub trays that are fitted in the front and back of the book and the 2 DVD’s slot away very tidily into cardboard slip pockets that are gloss coated on the inside to prevent the discs from get any marks and scratches. The 96 page book is very informative regarding the history of the album and the time it was made, and comes with wonderful glossy pictures and all the usual linear notes, credits and the lyrics.
It’s always pays to get in early and pre-order an item like this as soon as you see it available for pre-order on Amazon. Although places like the Burning Shed are usually on the ball and will have it available for pre-order first and even there price might appear to look cheaper than Amazon’s do not pay attention to the price that is first displayed on Amazon because it will drop down as you get nearer towards the release date.
For example, I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon on the 22nd July and at the time it was priced up at £35.95. A couple of weeks before its release the price had dropped down to £29.98 and the good thing about Amazon is that the P+P is free. Had I have pre-ordered it from the Burning Shed with the price of the P+P they charge you on top. I would have ended up paying £37.49 or even more for it. So, it does pay to shop around but in general I have had some right bargains from pre-ordering the Jethro Tull Book Editions from Amazon and they cannot be beaten.
You can get a better look at the package in this short video presentation I made.
The concept of the artwork for the albums cover is credited to Ian Anderson and was based around themes and the environment. The painting of the snowscape with a polar bear looming over a power station was done by David Jackson under the art direction of Peter Wragg. A photograph of Anderson with binoculars was used on the albums front cover to which the snow and the lightning flashes were painted in. Overall, it’s quite a good album cover and is very apt to the albums title.
Stormwatch (40th Anniversary Force 10 Edition) Review…
Jethro Tull’s 12th studio album Stormwatch was originally released in the UK and US on the 21st September 1979. The album contained 10 tracks spanned over an overall playing time of 45 minutes, 53 seconds. The album received many critical reviews upon its release and even though it peaked at 27 in the UK album charts and 22 in the US it was quite marginally disappointing in comparison to how well every album that came before it had done. I am pretty sure that at the time of its release Ian Anderson was hugely disappointed by how the album was received, that much that he spent many years defending the album at his live concerts.
I remember seeing Jethro Tull at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in the late 90’s when they were touring the DOT COM album the band had just released, and whilst he played “Dark Ages” he mentioned that Stormwatch was one of his personal favourite albums. But you cannot blame any songwriter for wanting to defend their own songs on that score. I have to confess that I myself was hugely disappointed with the album that much that I honestly would say that every one of the 11 albums that came before it was real GEMS in relation to the album. For an album that was supposed to be the third part in a series of a trilogy of folk-rock albums, it sounds more like a rock album gone wrong. The album is so out of context with its two predecessors Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses and only a few songs really speak the same language.
I think over the many years in many of my reviews of Jethro Tull I have on many other sites expressed the many downfalls that the album Stormwatch has. Having read the book that comes with this new 40th Anniversary edition I was quite surprised that not only all of the band members expressed the same feelings as myself about the album, but even Ian Anderson himself thought that “Dun Ringill” was the best thing on it and that has always been my favourite track too. Apart from another couple of tracks on the album the only real thing the album Stormwatch had about it would of been the fact that it contained the members of its last classic line-up. I would also say that at least Anderson still had his voice too, to which he did lose around 5 years after the album was made.
The 40th Anniversary of the album Stormwatch (Force 10 Edition) was supposed to be released on the 11th October but due to a distribution glitch in getting all the pre-orders out the release date got set back a month to the 15th November. It mostly affected those of us who live in the UK but in many other countries it was released on the 11th October and on the 10th October, I did get an email from Amazon confirming the new release date and also Ian Anderson announced the bad news on Facebook also on that day. I was not too happy having to wait another month but these things do happen and then 2 days before the new releases date on the 13th November Ian Anderson made another announcement that the distribution had still not been sorted out and it was now being set back to the 29th November.
I eagerly kept checking my email waiting for the announcement off Amazon and luckily for me I never got one and it did arrive on the 15th November. But it seems very odd that all those who did order it from the Jethro Tull website will have to wait till the 29th of November. The same goes for those who pre-ordered it from the Burning Shed as well and that is most likely tied to the Jethro Tull website. It’s most likely down to the fact that Ian Anderson has to sign them and you do pay more money for it by ordering from there which is why I prefer Amazon myself.
The album was recorded at Ian Anderson’s own Maison Rouge Studio in Fulham road London although a lot of it was also recorded in other various places with the use of the Maison Rouge Mobile which was Anderson’s first studio he had built back in 1975 and is also known as La Maison Rouge which was built in a Mercedes truck. The Maison Rouge studio in Fulham road he built in 1977. Ian Anderson sold the studio sometime in 1983. I am not 100% sure but I think he may have sold it to the record producer Robin Millar who had brought 3 studios in London back in those days.
Maison Rouge Studio
Many artists were recorded during the times Ian Anderson had the studio and long after he sold it on. Even Wham’s first hit was recorded there and some of Queen’s big hits. Marrilion recorded their 2nd album Fugazi and even Genesis had recorded there. The list goes on and on. The studio was eventually sold on too developers and it was Chelsea FC who brought it as part of a re-development for their football ground and they knocked down to make way for a car park which is what it has been since around 2005.
The Package Contents…
Like many of these Book Editions they come with an array of bonus material and besides the 96 page book that is an excellent feature on its own with all the informative information it gives you, this release comes with 6 Discs 4 CD’s & 2 DVD’s which is the most discs that any of these box sets have ever came with so far. It’s also good to see that Steven Wilson is back at the helm for this release and he’s perhaps had his work cut out here because he’s not only done new mixes and a 5.1 mix for the studio album, but has also done the same for much of the bonus material as well. So, let’s now take a closer inspection at just what you get here.
The 1st CD comes with the new Steve Wilson mixes of the original 10 album tracks which are spanned over an overall playing time of 45 minutes, 53 seconds. I like the fact that it is only the main album you get and it does not include any other bonus tracks on it. There is no need for me to list the tracks here as I shall be reviewing them later on in the album tracks section of my review. But what I will say is like all of Wilson’s new mixes he has done an excellent job on them.
The 2nd CD contains is what they are calling the “Associated Recordings” and this disc contains all the recordings that were recorded around the time of making the album. In total you get 15 tracks over and overall playing time of 72 minutes, 7 seconds. 7 of the tracks are all previously unreleased material and the other 8 tracks have found their way on previous releases as bonus tracks on albums and various other box sets. The previously unreleased tracks are as follows:
“Dark Ages (Early Version)“. “A Single Man (Instrumental)“. “Orion (Full Version)“. “Urban Apocalypse“. “Man Of God“. “Rock Instrumental (Unfinished Master)” and “Sweet Dream Fanfare“.
As you can see there is also a couple of alternative versions of “Dark Ages” & “Orion” that featured on the Stormwatch album. Both of these versions are also extended and longer than the original tracks. There is also 3 instrumental tracks 2 of which “A Single Man” & “Rock Instrumental” were written by Martin Barre and although they was not considered to be fitting enough for the album they did get played live at some shows back in 1979/80. The 3rd instrumental piece “Sweet Dream Fanfare” was penned by David Palmer and used as the introduction to the shows the band played on their US tours in the autumn of 1978 and the spring of 1979. These shows also opened up with “Sweet Dream” as the first number the band played.
Both the songs “Urban Apocalypse” & “Man Of God” are certainly the most interesting out of the bunch of unreleased material. The first of the two was written by David Palmer and Anderson does describe it as being more of his baby, but much of the band had an input in it including the deceased John Glascock and it does sound like a very sophisticated Jethro Tull song and is very good. It was also meant to be included on the album but was left off due to vinyl restrictions. The latter of the two songs was written by Anderson but he never considered it good enough and left it on the shelf. It’s not too bad and in reality, I personally do not think any of them would of tied in with the folk rock trilogy, but then again neither did a lot of the material that made it onto Stormwatch either :)))))).
The other 8 tracks were all written around the same time as Stormwatch apart from the live track which was written back in 1969. But apart from that the other tracks were never considered for the album though there are some really excellent songs that were written amongst this lot and certainly a couple of them that would of been a damn site more fitting regarding folk rock. The tracks are as follows:
“Crossword“. “Kelpie“. “Dun Ringill (Early Version)“. “A Stitch In Time”. “Broadford Bazaar“. “King Henry’s Madrigal (Theme From “Mainstream)“. “The Lyricon Blues (Instrumental)” and “Sweet Dream (Live)“.
Let’s get the odd live track out of the way first and “Sweet Dream” is the version from the double live album Bursting Out and was included here because it was also the B’ side of the single “A Stitch In Time” that they wrote and released in 1978. The early version of “Dun Ringill” includes Martin Barre playing with Ian Anderson on the song. The version that features on the Stormwatch album only featured Anderson alone in the same way he had done “Jack In The Green” on the Songs From The Wood album.
The first of the two instrumental pieces “King Henry’s Madrigal“ & “The Lyricon Blues (Instrumental)” was arranged by David Palmer and originally thought to have been composed by King Henry VIII and this has been played many a time live on stage by the band. It’s a piece that really sits in well with Tull’s repertoire and features Dave Pegg on bass. The second of the pieces was written by Anderson and is a blues piece that he done with a wind synthesizer or wind-controlled instrument called a Lyricon.
The Lyricon was the first ever wind controller to be constructed and was invented by Bill Bernardi (and co-engineered by Roger Noble with the late Lyricon performer Chuck Greenberg. It was manufactured by Computone Inc. in Massachusetts in the early 1970s and I find that quite fascinating and something unique, especially has not even MIDI had been invented by then. None of the Lyricon’s were engineered to use MIDI either and it was only after the company went out of business in 1980 that external MIDIfication modules were produced by J.L. Cooper and STEIM. “The Lyricon Blues” was a one off and the only piece Anderson played with the instrument and he soon got bored of it and never touched it again.
The remaining 4 songs I very much consider GEMS and always have had. In reality both “Kelpie” & “Broadford Bazaar” should have made it on the album Stormwatch. They are both songs that very much have the same quality of the material that was on Songs From The Wood & Heavey Horses in that this is genuine folk rock material and very well written songs. The other two songs “Crossword” & “A Stitch In Time” have more of a resemblance to the Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll – Too Young To Die! album and really are excellent too.
To be honest looking at how most of these Book Editions sell out more or less as soon as they come out. I am surprised to see how widely available Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll – Too Young To Die! still is. I know I paid £14 for it when it was released back in 2016. But even at the price it is on Amazon UK now at £24 it’s still a bargain and I would even say as an album it was a thousand times better than Stormwatch which is really an album that does not have much to say about itself.
CD’s 3 & 4.
Discs 3 & 4 contain a previously unreleased concert of the band playing live at Congreßgebouw, Den Haag in the Netherlands on the 16th March 1980. No doubt the concert has been put out on several bootlegs over the years and it even mentions that due to the archival nature of the source material the sound quality might not be up to modern standards. There is some evident distortion in some of the more powerful tracks like “Dark Ages” and “Orion” but overall, it’s not bad enough to spoil your listening pleasure and I certainly feel that it was a worthy edition of them including it.
Obviously as you can see by the date the band played the concert that John Glascock was not present and had sadly passed on in the previous year. Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention was called in to handle the bass duties who eventually went on to join the band in the same year. Being as the band were still very much on the tour of the Stormwatch album most of the album got played in the first half of the set to which they kicked off the show off with them and rolled them out one after another. It also features many Tull classics as ever and even a couple of Dave Pegg’s own compositions are played over the two sets too.
In total you get the whole hour and 50 minute show spread over the two discs and the 3rd CD contains 13 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 60 minutes, 26 seconds and the track list is as follows: “Prelude To A Storm“. “Dark Ages“. “Home“. “Orion“. “Dun Ringill“. “Elegy“. “Old Ghosts“. “Something’s On The Move“. “Aqualung“. “Peggy’s Pub“. “Jack-In-The-Green“. “King Henry’s Madrigal/Drum Solo” and “Heavy Horses“.
The 4th CD contains 12 tracks and comes with an overall playing time of 48 minutes, 49 seconds. The track listing is as follows: “Flute Solo“. “Keyboard Duet“. “Songs From The Wood“. “Hunting Girl“. “Jams O’Donnel’s Jigs“. “Thick As A Brick“. “Too Old To Rock’n’roll: Too Young To Die!“. “Cross-Eyed Mary“. “Guitar Solo“. “Minstrel In The Gallery“. “Locomotive Breath” and “The Dam Busters March“.
The first of the DVD’s contains the new Steven Wilson mixes in 5.1 & Stereo plus the original 1979 Stereo mix of the album. The main menu looks very pretty with the album cover and animated snow falling making it more realistic than the album cover and this is where for me with this type of packages you are not missing out by not having the vinyl album for its larger picture of the album cover. The main menu itself presents you with 2 simple choices of what mix to play and by clicking on one of them will present you with the following screen.
Once you’ve made your choice of which mix to play the sub menu presents you with the following 3 choices “Play Album”. “Track Select” and “Audio Select” as you can see in the picture above. From here you can simply play the album or you might want to head into the “Track Select” to select a track to play or the “Audio Select” to set up your desired audio settings. The “Track Select” will take you to the following screen.
As you can see from the “Track Select” menu it only features the tracks from the album Stormwatch and there are no other bonus tracks on the 1st DVD. The same is for both the new Steve Wilson mixes and the original 1979 mix of the album. The following screen shows the “Audio Select” menu.
From the “Audio Select” menu shown above you can select your choice of audio. The new Steve Wilson mixes gives you 3 choices of audio to select from and by default it’s set to 96/24 Stereo LPCM. The other 2 are 5.1 Surround Soundtracks giving you the choice of DTS 96/24 and standard Dolby Digital 48/16. The 1979 original flat transfer of the album comes with 1 Soundtrack of 96/24 LPCM Stereo.
Whilst playing the album it presents you with the albums front cover and a slideshow of pictures of the band and individual members of the band are displayed in the lenses as shown in the picture above. It also displays the name of the track you’re playing and the animated snow falling to make it a bit more pretty. It’s a nice enough touch and overall, they have done a very good job on putting the DVD together. So now let’s take a look at the 2nd DVD.
The layout of DVD 2 is the same as the previous DVD and this disc contains the same 15 tracks that are the “Associated Recordings” on CD 2. Only here they also come with a 5.1 mix and also the original stereo mixes have been included. The Audio formats also offer you the same choice you got with the first DVD too. I very much like the fact that these tracks got the 5.1 treatment and it is unusual for them to include the bonus tracks with 5.1 mixes and Steve Wilson did have his work cut out on this album. It’s also worth noting though that only 13 of the tracks have been given the 5.1 treatment and the last couple of tracks “Sweet Dream Fanfare” & “Sweet Dream Live” are in stereo only.
The 5.1 Mixes.
Well there is no doubt that Steven Wilson is up there with the best of the 5.1 mix engineers these days and no doubt he has done another truly GREAT! job with them for both the new mixes of the original album and associated recordings. I do feel the 5.1 treatment does work well in how he’s gone about the placement of everything over the 6 channels and because Stormwatch is not a particular favourite album of mine by any means I was rather hoping that the 5.1 treatment would make the album work a bit better for me. But unfortunately, it does nothing for it basically because most of the material was just too bad to say enough in the first place. But I suppose at the least I might get to play the album a bit more now it’s had the 5.1 treatment and it does have a few good tracks.
More than anything I am so glad he did give at least 13 of the 15 tracks of the associated recordings the 5.1 treatment and in all honesty, it is these tracks and the bonus disc that are the more enjoyable thing about the package along with the book. He has done a very effective job with “Urban Apocalypse” too and I prefer the material that was written for the biggest majority of these tracks over the album Stormwatch. Overall, the 5.1 mixes of both albums are TOP NOTCH! and once again I give nothing but praise to the guy.
The Bonus Material In Review.
For me the bonus material that was written around the same time as the album Stormwatch is very good and a lot of it I would say does say more about Ian Anderson’s writing than the material that winded up on Stormwatch. But even if you were to swap and change some of the material to try and make up something that would have been more suitable to work in the way of the 3rd part of a series of folk-rock albums, you would be flogging a dead horse I am afraid. Simply because there is nothing here to really measure up to the written material that made up the albums Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses. But that is not to say that some of the bonus material is not more familiar with the band Jethro Tull.
Over the many years since Jethro Tull started back in the late 60’s Ian Anderson has written many truly GREAT! songs that never made it onto any of the bands main albums they put out. Sure, they made it onto compilation albums and songs like “Witches Promise” and “Living In The Past” are very much what I would call Jethro Tull classics and that is just to name a couple of them. I think out of all the tracks that make up the associated recordings the only one that lets it down is that he decided to include the full version of “Orion“. The song is boring enough without making it longer and it’s never going to make grade like he did with the extended version of “Wondering Aloud” to which he entitled “Wondering Aloud Again“.
Overall both the associated recordings and live concert are worthy additions and John Glascock also appears on more of the tracks on the associated recordings than the album and features on 8 of the tracks. My personal highlights from the associated recordings are as follows: “Crossword“. “Kelpie“. “Dun Ringill (Early Version)“. “A Stitch In Time“. “A Single Man (Instrumental)“. “Broadford Bazaar“. “King Henry’s Madrigal“. “Urban Apocalypse“. “The Lyricon Blues (Instrumental)” and “Man Of God“.
Musicians & Credits…
All songs composed by Ian Anderson except “Elegy” by David Palmer. Recorded between August 1978 – July 1979 on the Maison Rouge Mobile and at the Maison Rouge Studios Fulham. London. Produced by Ian Anderson & Robin Black. Engineered by Robin Black. Cover Concept by Ian Anderson. Art Direction by Peter Wagg. Cover Painting by David Jackson. Surround & Stereo New Mixes by Steven Wilson. Den Haag Audio Restoration & Mastering by Nick Watson at Fluid. CD Master & DVD Authoring by Ray Shulman at Isonic.
Ian Anderson: Vocals/Flute/Acoustic Guitar/Bass Guitar.
Martin Barre: Electric Guitar/Classical Guitar/Mandolin.
John Evan: Piano & Organ.
David Palmer: Portative Pipe Organ/Synthesizers & Orchestral Arrangements.
John Glascock: Bass Guitar (Tracks 2, 9, 10 & Disc 2 Tracks 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15)
Barriemore Barlow: Drums & Percussion.
Dave Pegg: Bass (Disc 2 Track 14 & Discs 3 & 4)
Francis Wilson: Spoken Word (Tracks 1, 8)
The Original Album Tracks Review…
I have to confess that when Stormwatch was released back in 1979 it was the the first time I seen a dent regarding the written material that made up the album. To even say it was the third part of a folk-rock trilogy was a bit of an insult basically because the material was all over the place and never heading in the right direction. One minute you are on an oil rig in the North Sea and the next you’re in the stars and then thrust back to the dark ages. Everything about the album is so out of context there is just no way for it to work like a collection of songs that have been assembled to make up an album never mind a folk-rock album.
Unlike the previous two albums in the folk-rock trilogy where the other band members had joined in on the writing Stormwatch was mostly written by Ian Anderson solely, apart from the last instrumental track on the album penned by David Palmer. Gone are the tiny woodland elves that wondered along so pleasantly in velvet green and the one brown mouse sitting in its cage in acres wild, to make way for the news concerning oil tankers in the North Sea and to gaze at the stars. Effectively it’s a bit like making way for a bypass that’s going to be built through heritage land and piss many of its residents off who live there :)))))).
Something more FISHY! was going on and I am sure that the fact that Ian Anderson had gone into Salmon farming up in Scotland and focused his attention around that region had a bearing on how the album turned out and his mind may of been focused on other things rather than the folk rock trilogy he originally had planned. But of course, with things not going so well with John Glascock’s health would of also had a bearing and his decision to fire him (or rather let him go) did not help with the other members of the band in particular with his closest friend Barriemore Barlow who himself decided to leave after the tour.
According to the book Anderson did let him go for his own good to get himself sorted out properly and it was Glascock himself who took it on himself that he had been fired. I tend to believe that as well simply because having come out of hospital after a serious operation he simply went back to his old lifestyle instead of taking things easier. It’s an easy thing to do and I have seen so many who have done the same thing in my lifetime and they are no longer here either. But what is left here are the 3 tracks that Glascock got to play on and the remnants of what’s known as the last classic Jethro Tull line-up. So, let’s now take a closer look at how the album turned out.
Track 1. North Sea Oil.
The albums opening track “North Sea Oil” musically does have all the familiarities that you would associate with the bands musical style, as a matter of fact it might be too close to what you have already heard on the last couple of albums in the trilogy on the musical side of things and it does have some GREAT! progression and changes over the 3 minutes and 11 seconds you get here. In many ways I would even say it ROCKED! But for me personally the lyrics certainly do not and are without doubt the very thing that let it down and make it sound so BORING!
Maybe Ian Anderson thought it would be a SLICK! idea to write a song about the longevity of how long the oil would last in the North Sea. The one thing that is certain is that it will certainly last a hell of a lot longer than this song will before it completely pisses you off :))))))))).
“North Sea Oil” was the first of two singles to be released from the album to promote it and was released in the UK only on the same day as the albums release. Though like many of the bands singles they never really made the charts and were put out for radio play more than anything else. It also features the voice of the Francis Wilson who was the weather forecaster for Thames TV at the time. I personally think had a different subject matter been put to the music it might say more to me than the little it does.
Track 2. Orion.
Orion is one of the most conspicuous and recognizable constellations in the night sky. It was named after Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology and is one of the brightest constellations due to its supergiant stars. There is no doubt the stars might be supergiant’s and the fact that they are is why Anderson most likely decided the song needed to be beefed up. The only problem is that I think it’s well over the top and is a bit like portraying Orion as some super hero or something. It just sounds ridiculous with how he’s gone about it all. It’s also the first of the 3 tracks that John Glascock contributed the bass to on the album.
I quite like the come down acoustic section of the song, but once again that is very familiar to what’s already been done and is a bit reminiscent to some of the material on the 1975 album Minstrel In The Gallery especially with how David Palmer has arranged the strings. The full-length version which is twice as long that is on the associated recordings and is how the song was originally done and was edited down for the album. It perhaps makes it a bit more tolerable by editing it down though I just find the whole thing over the top and once again on the boring side.
Track 3. Home.
One of the better songs on the album and “Home” is one of those rare romantic ballads like “Fires At Midnight” that Anderson wrote and was inspired from the long times he was away from home on tour as he explains himself in the book. He does also state that the orchestration that David Palmer done for the song makes it sound a bit syrupier, but I personally think it works better here than the previous track and is really GORGEOUS! and sits well with the acoustic guitar and the rest of the instrumentation. I love how well Anderson has also put the words into context.
“Home” was the second single release from the album and was released a couple of months after the albums release once again the UK only. It was most likely put out to remind people that the band had a new album out and it has to be one of the contenders for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! especially as there is very little along the album that really stands out and it is a GREAT! well written song.
Track 4. Dark Ages.
No doubt the heaviest and longest track on the album and is perhaps more along the lines of what they would call today prog metal and a long way off folk rock. Although not all the songs on Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses were all folk rock either and some were more along the lines of progressive rock. Ian Anderson describes it has something more along the lines of Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” and would of suited Bruce Dickinson’s voice and it perhaps would of as well I feel.
I think the musical structure and progression of the song is very good. However, its Anderson’s idea of pertaining the lyrics along the lines of the dark ages to come that baffles the life out of me. The dark ages are a thing of the past and even some of the organ and flute melody lines are more associated with medieval times from those days of the past. Listening to the words it’s a bit like being in an Agatha Christie WHO DONE IT! the butler or the vicar story set in the days of King Arthur and is quite comical to even think of it in those terms.
I am pretty sure how the lyrics come across to myself are not what Anderson intended at all and he is far more intelligent than myself that’s for sure, but that is literally how they do come across to me but then again I might be as THICK AS A BRICK! :)))))). Oddly enough Anderson’s bass playing sounds like Dave Pegg especially along the lead break section and Pegg is quite a distinctive bass player with how he makes it sound and how his bass lines stand out and these bass lines are very close to his. “Dark Ages” is probably the most powerful song in the Jethro Tull catalogue and it’s got some GREAT! transitional changes along its path too and for those reasons I suppose it does have to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 5. Warm Sporran.
The first of two instrumental tracks on the album and like many of the tracks on the album they do tend to have more of a Scottish feel about them and the bagpipes that you hear in the piece are very much not credited to any musician playing them. Over the years most reviews speculate them to being played on a keyboard but from what I can make of Anderson’s notes in the book, it does suggest that they were real bagpipes but he does not mention who played them. He does however mention how they are hard to record and get them to stay in tune and how he had to vari-speed the tape to match the pitch of the pipes.
Overall, I think “Warm Sporran” is very good piece of work that was constructed around Anderson’s bass line and like many other Jethro Tull instrumental pieces its very well arranged and uses excellent instrumentation. It was also used for the B-Side of the single and EP UK release of “Home“.
Track 6. Something’s On The Move.
Something more of a standard rock song this one and perhaps much like the material they later went on to do with the odd tracks on albums like Rock Island and Roots To Branches only here Anderson still had his voice. The lyrical side of things is pertaining to the changes in the weather and it’s a far cry from all the shuffling madness that came before it and more of a typical run of the mill sort of thing. Overall, it’s OK but nothing more I am afraid.
Track 7. Old Ghosts.
A song that was inspired from a graveyard that was at the bottom of the garden of where Anderson was living on the Isle of Skye at the time to which he also threw in a few childhood memories. I think it’s a haunting enough story and like he says in the book it was done more in a cheery way rather than to scare your pants off sort of thing and the ghosts here have only come out to play. It’s really the vocal line and how the voice is expressed that play the haunting factor in this song and not the music.
Musically the bass, flute and orchestration play a domineering role and once again David Palmer’s orchestral arrangement does tend to hark back to the Minstrel In The Gallery album. The song was most likely written and constructed around the bass line. It’s quite an odd piece and somewhat different to most of the material on the album. I do not think it sits that well on the album either and sometimes it’s perhaps best to let sleeping dogs lie.
Track 8. Dun Ringall.
My personal favourite track of the album and “Dun Ringall” is much more suited to the bands previous couple of albums more than any other song on the album. Just like “Jack In The Green” from the Songs From The Wood album this is played solely by Ian Anderson but this is perhaps more stripped back to the bare bones in that it’s just him and an acoustic guitar more or less. But in saying that it does also contain the voice of the Thames TV weatherman Francis Wilson once again.
In many respects the song could be seen as the albums self-titled track in that it contains the title within the lyrics. Dun Ringill is an Iron Age hill fort on the Strathaird peninsula on the island of Skye, Scotland. Ian Anderson lived a stone’s throw away from it at the time he made the album. Many moons ago it was more fortified most likely in case of an attack by the Vikings. These days all that is left is a pile of rocks that would most likely go unnoticed. “Dun Ringall” merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 9. Flying Dutchman.
A song about the legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever to which Anderson uses the story as a metaphor for a human character suggesting it could be you or me lost on an empty vessel according to the book. This is my personal 2nd favourite track on the album and it should perhaps win the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! Simply because this is by far the best structured song on the album and it contains all the right instrumentation that one would associate with folk rock. I love the arrangement too.
There are many familiarities along the path of this song too and it’s a bit like a cross between “Thick As A Brick“. “Baker Street Muse” and the “Chequered Flag“. There is also some really excellent flute and whistle work from Anderson in this song that also puts me in mind of some of the material off the album Songs From The Wood. The “Flying Dutchman” is a real solid piece of work and a very strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT! and is the 2nd of three of the tracks to feature John Glascock on bass.
Track 10. Elegy.
The final track on the album also features John Glascock on bass and is a nice soothing instrumental piece written by David Palmer. In English literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, usually a lament for the dead. This is a bit like a baroque waltz and I don’t think it will be shaking the dead but it might make you have the last waltz with them :))))). It rounds the album off very well indeed.
To sum up the 40th Anniversary Force 10 Edition of Stormwatch by Jethro Tull. Like all these packages they are really excellent value for the money, and on this particular release I do feel that it is the extra bonus material along with the book you get here that carries most of the weight in making the package more enjoyable and worthwhile. I myself had all of the Jethro Tull albums back in the 70’s before the release of Stormwatch back in 1979 and have always found the album a bit of a let-down in relation to everything that preceded it. It is an album that does have a few good tracks but not enough for the album to stand out and make a real statement to quite make the mark of all its predecessors. I would even say it was a better album than the one that followed it “A” to which may have come from another planet entirely :))))).
There are only a very few albums in the Jethro Tull catalogue that came after the album Heavy Horses that can live up to the standards the band produced in the first decade of its career, and I certainly think it is the material that was written over the first decade of the bands career that by far left the biggest impact. Stormwatch was an album that did have one of the many classic line-ups the band had seen over its first decade but it was the times that were changing more than anything and not so much as the musicians. Because no matter how you look at the band its always had pretty good musicians who were well capable of handling the job and Ian Anderson is no fool to pick somebody who was not capable of doing so.
Looking back at over the that first decade of the bands career its quite a remarkable achievement to produce 11 albums that were so consistent and, in all honesty, not one of them are a bad album. There are not many bands that have managed to achieve that and Ian Anderson wrote a ton of other GREAT! material that never even made the albums which could of easily have made a least a couple of more GREAT! albums. To be honest I am not one for buying singles and compilation albums but I did buy the double album Living In The Past which was a compilation album made up of existing material that had already of been written over those early years. Yet to me it sounded like a double albums worth of new material and was a really GREAT! album.
For me personally Stormwatch may have had a GREAT! line-up of musicians but it was an album that failed to keep the consistency flowing and was the very first dent I had ever seen in Ian Anderson’s writing. There is no doubt that the fact that music was changing and having just gone through an explosive invasion of punk rock and with the 80’s looming towards newer modern techniques and different musical styles had an effect on him enough to try out something new. Both the albums “A” and Under Wraps are very much a testament to it.
Although I certainly do not think any of that had a bearing on why Stormwatch never quite made the mark. That was most likely down to what was going on around Anderson and the band at the time and it would not be the first time they have made an album under stressful and other circumstances. But it was the first time it never really turned out as well. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Dun Ringill“. “Flying Dutchman“. “Home” and “Dark Ages“.
Overall, I think Stormwatch is pretty much an album that is pretty much out of context regarding the folk-rock trilogy. However it is an half decent album but unfortunately when you weigh up how well all the other albums that preceded it came out, half decent does not really cut the mustard and is not enough to make the mark and that is where it perhaps falls too short to be any sort of a classic album. No doubt you can only be consistent for so long before something has to give way and in all fairness to Ian Anderson his songwriting had been way more consistent than most up until this point.
But just as disappointed as I was with the album it never stopped me from buying the rest of the bands albums. Sure, there have been many more disappointments along the way over the next 3 decades of the bands musical career which did really come to an end in 2003 regarding their catalogue of studio albums. But there has always been something you can get out of it and I would not like to see the re-issues of these book editions end here and I am hoping the rest of the albums will get the same treatment.
As you can see from the picture above the 1970 album Benefit still has not been given the book treatment and that is one hell of a classic album in my eyes. So, no way do I want these editions to end right now and hopefully as it is the 50th Anniversary of the album next year it will get done then.
I know that just recently a book entitled The Ballad of Jethro Tull has just been released which does go into the bands entire history most likely. But for me the amount of detail that is contained about every album in these Book Editions I do feel go into a lot more depth and along with all the bonus material plus the 5.1 recordings these packages simply cannot be beaten and they do give you the best quality and value for the buck. So, I do hope that new book is not going to be the all and end of the new edition series and that “A” and Benefit get the book treatment next year.
Lines Join In Faint Discord, And The Stormwatch Brews…
The CD track listing is as follows:
01. North Sea Oil. 3:11.
02. Orion. 4:00.
03. Home. 2:45.
04. Dark Ages. 9:11.
05. Warm Sporran. 3:37.
06. Something’s On The Move. 4:29.
07. Old Ghosts. 4:23.
08. Dun Ringill. 2:41.
09. Flying Dutchman. 7:43.
10. Elegy. 3:33.
Disc 2. (Associated Recordings)
01. Crossword. 3:36.
02. Dark Ages (Early Version). 11:54.
03. Kelpie. 3:34.
04. Dun Ringill (Early Version). 2:43.
05. A Stitch In Time. 4:28.
06. A Single Man (Instrumental). 2:39.
07. Broadford Bazaar. 3:45.
08. King Henry’s Madrigal (Theme From Mainstream). 3:30.
09. Orion (Full Version). 9:14.
10. Urban Apocalypse. 4:45.
11. The Lyricon Blues (Instrumental). 5:13.
12. Man Of God. 6:33.
13. Rock Instrumental (Unfinished Master). 3:33.
14. Sweet Dream Fanfare. 2:29.
15. Sweet Dream (Live). 4:39.
Disc 3. (Live at the Nederlands Congresgebouw DenHaag March 16th 1980)
01. Prelude To A Storm. 1:53.
02. Dark Ages. 8:30.
03. Home. 2:52.
04. Orion. 5:02.
05. Dun Ringill. 2:40.
06. Elegy. 3:54.
07. Old Ghosts. 3:07.
08. Something’s On The Move. 4:24.
09. Aqualung. 9:54.
10. Peggy’s Pub. 2:57.
11. Jack-In-The-Green. 3:15.
12. King Henry’s Madrigal. 5:49.
13. Heavy Horses. 6:09.
Disc 4. (Live at the Nederlands Congresgebouw DenHaag March 16th 1980)
01. Flute Solo. 7:55.
02. Keyboard Duet. 1:24.
03. Songs From The Wood. 4:12.
04. Hunting Girl. 5:38.
05. Jams O’Donnel’s Jigs. 3:31.
06. Thick As A Brick. 7:29.
07. Too Old To Rock’n’roll: Too Young To Die. 3:09.
08. Cross Eyed Mary. 3:22.
09. Guitar Solo. 2:28.
10. Minstrel In The Gallery. 2:56.
11. Locomotive Breath. 4:00.
12. The Dam Busters March. 2:45.